For Your Consideration…Maverick (No, not Tom Cruise…No, not John McCain…that NBA guy)

For Your Consideration…Maverick (No, not Tom Cruise…No, not John McCain…that NBA guy)

Welcome back. For those of you who caught my SmackDown bonus column, thanks for your kind feedback (especially in response to my comments about Umaga’s passing). For those of you who missed it, you can either scroll down the page or check out the link on my Twitter site (twitter.com/awheeler316).

So the ‘net is again abuzz about TNA. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Total Nonstop Action is going to debut Hulk Hogan in a three hour live Impact airing head-to-head with Monday Night RAW.

Yup.

I want to pause for a minute and let that sink in.

TNA, the company that pulls in the sum total ratings of ECW of SyFi, is going to go toe-to-toe with WWE Monday Night RAW. And what’s their secret weapon? A man last seen in a WWE ring dressed like a poor man’s Captain America. To this I have to ask, “Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?”

Seriously, the gloves are off at this point. I have held back my outright hatred of TNA for several months now, but the time is through. I rallied against them when they signed Bobby Lashley. I condemned Mick Foley and Tazz for risking their reputation for a perceived lighter schedule under the guise of creating the “next generation.” But then there was that odd glimmer of hope where TNA was pushing young talent, shoving aside the old guard, and getting back to their mission statement of being a true alternative to the WWE.

Oh how naïve people can be. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twenty or thirty times and you’re WCW.

TNA pulled off two marginally big moments in the past few months. First was their perceived signing of Nigel from under the WWE’s nose. Of course we would come to find that the publicly traded company was really unwilling to sign a talent that couldn’t pass a physical without his shoulder falling off like a busted He-Man action figure. Then there was the “big” announcement. Hulk Hogan had signed with TNA. Again. For the first time.

So we had like three weeks of solid TNA television with a focus on young talent and then we find out that it was just a shell game and that behind door number three was Ed Leslie. Hahaha wrestling fans, you almost thought they were going to give you an actually decent program. Shame on you. Here, feast on some Scott Steiner/Bobby Lashley magic.

So TNA gets Hogan and now generates the mainstream press that Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, Mick Foley, Taz, Raven, The Dudley Boys, Sting, Kurt Angle, Toby Keith and a host of baseball players and NASCAR drivers couldn’t do. Suddenly, TNA’s roster looks potentially viable and could possibly be groomed to eventually challenge Vince. Suddenly there’s the possibility that there could be a legit #2 promotion that will produce truly high quality wrestling.

Then there was this odd period of time where no one really mentioned what was going on with Hogan. Sure, he had signed with TNA, but what was he going to do? Was he going to be a goodwill ambassador? A GM? A partner? Was he-gasp-going to actually wrestle? Most people in the IWC assumed that Hogan would put himself over some of the younger talent. Some ignorant people even believed that he would be willing to lay down for a future top star. Instead, we found out that Hogan is doing…uh…

Well, there’s the rub. No one can say definitively what Hulk Hogan’s role is going to be. All we know is that he’s going to appear on TNA television.

Now I am not about to say that Hulk Hogan appearing again on television isn’t going to draw any attention. There are still hordes of casual fans who would gladly tune in to see the nostalgia trip one more time. Unfortunately, the Hulk Hogan that TNA has purchased is not the same Hulk Hogan who was a WWE Hall of Famer. Now, the name Hulk Hogan is synonymous with a cheesy reality show, a tragic car accident, an ugly divorce, an obsession with dating women who look eerily like his daughter and a suicide attempt. Screw saying prayers and eating vitamins, kids, this Hulkster’s all about earning bucks and paying alimony.

What have we established? TNA got buzz signing Hogan and intrigue about his role in the company (though admittedly the intrigue is not as big as it should be, with most folks expecting the worst). How do they somehow screw this up? By turning Hogan’s debut into the first shot in a new Monday Night War.

Back when WCW fired the first shot in the Monday Night War, the wrestling industry was truly intrigued. World Championship Wrestling fostered a lot of interest out of their “What are they gonna do next?” shtick; something TNA just cannot do. Sure the Monday special is live, but TNA is a taped show every week, which removes any true element of surprise.

There is a possibility that TNA is going to get a decent ratings bump from the tire kicking wrestling public. Out there among those channel surfers are a few folks who still remember with longing and fondness the good old days when Hogan reigned supreme and wrestling was king. They might, out of boredom, click over to see what the Hulkster is doing.

The bulk of the wrestling audience for TNA watches the WWE. In fact, I think that you would be hard pressed to find too many people who are die-hard TNA fans that never touch Vince’s product. That means that in order for this experiment to work, TNA is going to have to hook their audience from jump-street and hope that no one flips. Look, I’m a realist. There is not going to be a sudden mass audience that shows up out of nowhere for TNA, which means anyone watching their show that night are people who would normally be watching RAW. At best, TNA can steel a few hundred thousand eyeballs for a brief period of time. Is that what TNA really wants?

TNA should have debuted Hogan on a live three hour TNA event ON A THURSDAY NIGHT. Teach your audience where to find TNA programming at its normal slot. Even better, since Vince doesn’t air a Thursday wrestling show at 9 pm, TNA has 100% of the wrestling world who might tune in out of curiosity. No, I don’t expect them to do RAW numbers, but they could be decent compared to the average TNA tends to pull.

But no. TNA got way too big for their britches and are attempting to create MNW World War II, when in fact the best they can hope for is Grenada. Vince is going to do whatever it takes to crush this show. He might not be able to get The Rock, but he could probably get Hogan. Even better, he can pull all three brands onto that night’s RAW and give us a series of dream matches. If he really gets desperate, he could give us Cena/Taker for free. In the end, Vince McMahon will remind us why he thrived best against competition, and TNA will ultimately regret poking the bear.

Alright, enough TNA bashing, it’s time for RAW.

“It’s not over…”

We open with the new and increasingly grating Nickelback theme. At least with the Papa Roach song, I was able to just sort of tune it out.

We are six nights away from the “revolutionary” TLC PPV and we are live from Dallas. Over-under on the amount of times someone references the Giants handing the Cowboys yet another December loss? I say three.

Tonight we get Mark Hey-Hey Henry versus The Miz and Jericho versus DX.

Mark Cuban comes from the stands to show that he’s a regular guy. Look, he’s even wearing a sweatshirt. He’s just like us, except he’s got billions of dollars.

Cuban talks about how excited he is to host RAW. He then asks if there are any Mavericks fans in the house, because he apparently forgot that this is a NATIONAL broadcast. Mark promises to go crazier here than he would at a Mavs game. Cuban promises to be large and in charge all night long. That’s what she said.

Cuban promises a showdown between the number one challenger Sheamus and his main man John Cena. Number one challenger? Wouldn’t that be Lex Luger during his early 90’s run?

Mark Cuban knows what we came for, and he’s giving us what we want, John Cena. Close Mark, but…no. Cena shows up and the arena erupts with excitement. Hey, despite the AWFUL SEC game, I’m still glad to see him rocking the Gators colors.

Apparently the champ is jerking the curtain as he’s facing Carl Ito (glad to bring that joke back). Speaking of brining back jokes, here comes Carlito himself, complete with his Umaga armband. Uh, is it just me or did Carlito shrink a little? Guess with his time off, he got well.

Cuban is sitting ringside, which makes him the first GM to actually sit through a two hour WWE show. Carlito hammers away at Cena, but he just feels a little lost. Cena gets him up for the FU but Carl hits a dropkick for two.

Cena hits a shoulderblock or two on Carlito, then continues the rest of the Five Moves of Mediocrity, going for the “You can’t see me” before Sheamus’s music hits. Sheamus shows up but is blocked at the ramp by Mark Cuban and a bunch of shlubs in security costumes. Apparently that stops Sheamus.

Carlito jumps Cena from behind, goes for the Backstabber and then John shrugs it off and not only hits the FU, but takes time to do the “You can’t see me” with Carlito on his shoulders. Hey kids, wanna know how to bury talent? Just watch that.

John Cena then goes to shake the hands of some of the Mavericks players and kisses the Bella Twins.

Tonight we get a Sheamus/Cena Showdown later on tonight. It’ll be kinda like now, only with fewer guys in black khaki pants pretending to keep order. In the meantime, let’s enjoy some…

Commercials.

Big Game Hunter 2010 commercial. For the techno-savvy redneck. Jesus, there might actually be more TNA fans.

What was Match of the Year? Who was Superstar of the Year? What was Match of the Year? Tune in to the Slammy Awards, hosted by Dennis Miller (fuck yeah, by the way). Even better, I’ll be here for three hours chock full of chicanery.

I hear voices and I see three men not wearing pants. And look, Randy has a new shirt that kinda looks like spin-art with a gas mask on the front.

We now get to re-live Orton killing Kingston last week after his “gutsy” performance. Even better, we get to again see the sick DDT Randy hit on Kofi.

Orton and his merry men all have microphones. Randy applauds Mark Cuban for taking charge and exerting authority. He then realizes that he read the script and revealed that the showdown tonight will end in chaos. Well, that saved me a few hours.

Randy says that Mark Cuban is going to lift the band. Again, Randy, just because you read the programming sheet for tonight doesn’t mean that you can ruin it for the rest of us.

Teddy says that since they are both rich people, they should both be smart. We re-live Mark Cuban eating an RKO from 2003. Well yay for continuity. Cuban says that Randy Orton is not fighting the winner at TLC. Really? I thought the footage was going to change his mind. Nothing gets me on your side better than a video of you kicking my ass.

Mark Cuban respects the fact that he’s a competitor, so tonight Randy Orton is facing Kofi Kingston…with Cuban as the referee. Let’s hope this isn’t the NBA, because Mark might have money on this game.

Cody Rhodes says that Cuban can and will hurt him. Again Cody, warn us when there are spoilers. Rhodes mocks the Mavs players for losing before Cody challenges him to a match. Duck-Billed Rhodes and Teddy get in Mark’s face and Mark says that they can do it in June when Dallas wins the title. Yeah, I’ll hold my breath.

Apparently tonight Legacy has to face the formidable team of Evan Bourne and Primo. Remember when Owen Hart teamed with Koko B. Ware and you just felt terrible for the highly talented worker being held down by the dead weight wrestler who only had a job because he must have had some incriminating evidence on the boss and because firing too many minorities draws attention? Don’t know why that reminds me of Bourne and Primo. Oh well, I might ponder that over a…

Commercial.

Nope, I can’t even enjoy this commercial break. Why the fuck is the WWE saddling Evan Bourne with a talentless waste of space like Primo? Seriously. Next thing you know they are going to team up CM Punk with Escobar. Screw it WWE, throw on a pair of parachute pants on Bourne and Primo and get it over with. Maybe you can re-untie Slaughter and Duggan and have them beat the kids. Oh, I’m sure Legacy might lose here in a fluke, but who the hell does that help? Is it that important to get Mark Cuban over?!

Oh good, we’re back and Primo is in the ring. Thankfully, he’s getting his ass handed to him by Legacy. Teddy is hammering away on Primo before tagging in Cody. Cole says that this is a rematch from Superstars, and apparently the folks who watched that demanded to see it again. I watched the match and I don’t remember asking to see it again. In fact, I remember begging then to never see Bourne anywhere near Primo.

Cody breaks up a hot tag attempt and Legacy again double-team Primo. Hopefully he doesn’t get the tag and gets beat and we can keep Evan away from all the unpleasantness.

Primo and Cody bump heads and we get the tag to Teddy and Bourne. Evan hits his Token Offense before going for Air Bourne, which he pretty much never hits nowadays. Bourne at least hits the double knees as Cole yells “upset” so loud that he killed any credibility Evan Bourne ever had. Teddy hits Dreamstreet and Evan Bourne is again treated as a gigantic jobber. Fantastic. Just let Mark Henry squash Miz later on tonight and let’s get it over with.

Wait, Mark Cuban has ruled that Legacy will now be ejected from the arena. And here come the men in black khakis again to escort them out of the building. Does anyone else sense a Mark Cuban heel turn later? Just putting it out there.

Jerry Lawler and Dapper Michael Cole are on camera throwing us to a Sheamus package. It even has a title, “Celtic Warpath.” We relive Sheamus killing Jamie Noble in order to remind us that Sheamus is a badass who can totally beat Cena at the PPV.

Stay tuned folks, because tonight we are getting a Showdown! This is totally unlike the Taker/Batista Call Out from Smackdown. Originality is king on Monday Night.

Commercial.

We’re back with Kelly Kelly in the ring, who is apparently guest ring announcer. Maryse is out first and we re-live the tag match from last week that most of you thankfully forgot about (or fast-forwarded through). We come back in time to see Maryse do the hair flip thing before Gail Kim comes down to the ring to remind us that she still works there and is ready to do the j-o-b.

Gail beats on Maryse for a few minutes before botching a pinfall attempt. She hits a Stinger Splash for two before attempting to drive her knee in Maryse’s face but kinda slips and winds up driving…uh…something else into Maryse’s face. Gail leaps onto the second rope but Maryse kicks her off it and pins her with the feet on the ropes and it’s over. Well at least this was logical. What we saw was that Gail Kim is tougher than Maryse but Maryse plays dirty. Maryse then demands that Kelly say that she’s the next champion and then we get the best catfight ever for a few seconds before Melina gallops out.

We get a graphic for Kofi/Orton where Mark Cuban totally will not turn on Kingston. Hmm, we’ve gone through 45 minutes of this show and no DX. I guess they looked at the ratings and realized that hour two has higher ratings.

Commercial.

We’re back and sure enough there’s DX. Oh wait, its DX shilling merchandise. Apparently they make a DX Santa hat. Even better, they have DX shoes. Shawn got Hunter a gift, the new Smackdown v. RAW 2010 video game. Hunter mentions that he got a comped copy as well. Apparently fucking the boss’s daughter gets you perks.

Hunter got Shawn a gift; it’s a midget. He’s wearing a “World’s Littlest Member” DX shirt. Apparently the shirt is illegal. Uh oh, someone better call Earl Hebner.

Shawn and Hunter devolve into Star Wars arguments before actually pulling out the scripts. Hornswoggle is on top of the Christmas tree before splashing DX and stealing Shawn’s lame cowboy hat. “Damn ye Walker, befuddled me again!”

Lawler and Dapper Cole suck up to SKY Sports, pretending that the WWE cares about England. Next thing you know they are going to bring up Luxemburg. Oh wait, they have turned this into talking about Sheamus. The Celtic Warpath continues as we see him beating up Mark Eaton and Jerry Lawler.

Tonight is still the dreaded SHOWDOWN. Before that, Kofi is Ghana face Orton next…

Commercial.

We’re back and Mark Cuban is in the ring in his referee get-up. Orton is out and we yet again get to hear his song. But here comes Kofi Kingston, and he’s ja-making the copyright logo crazy.

Kofi clotheslines Orton over the top rope before hitting a suicide dive. Randy then takes advantage after Kofi missed a top rope move and the match IMMEDIATELY slows down.

Rugged Randy Garvin begins to stomp on Kofi as Mark Cuban tries not to fall asleep. I can’t believe it’s 10pm and we are finally getting our first shot at a good match. This is when the WWE is on autopilot, I assure you. We’re gonna watch the TNA/WWE head-to-head show and watch Vince pull out some of the stops. My guess? Grab the smarks with a Kidd/Michaels match and then probably Hunter/Taker or Cena/Orton.

Yes, I was able to type all of that during one of Randy Orton’s headlocks. Thankfully Kofi is battling out but Cuban breaks it up before Kofi Spiderman leaps onto Orton with more punches.

Kofi hits the Boom Drop before the Loud Claps of Death signal Trouble in Paradise but Randy, who apparently has working ears, hits the reverse neckbreaker before he begins to telegraph HIS finishing move. Kofi blocks the RKO and we get a fast count and Kofi just pinned Randy Orton. Well why the hell did they give that moment away for free? I thought for sure we wouldn’t see Kofi beat Orton until TLC.

Mark Cuban says that he waited six years for payback, which, quite frankly, is a little sad. He says that now it’s 1-to-1 and we get the rubber match at TLC.

The Dallas skyline hosts Dapper Cole’s VO, tossing us to a video package of Sheamus winning the battle royal. How much do I love hearing Vince on commentary? It’s incredible. I feel like at any moment he’s going to ask us to call the hotline.

Still to come…SHOWDOWN. I’ll let it go that Lawler just said it’s a showdown between John Cena and John Sheamus. Coming up next is Mark Hey-Hey Henry with his hype man MVP. I still maintain that Porter has more value to Vince than just Henry’s wingman, so I think they might pull the trigger and turn him heel.

Commercial.

How many times are we getting the Cheesy Gordita Crunch commercial tonight? Fuck, I’m begging at this point…

Apparently Smackdown is coming to the American Airlines Arena where we get Taker/Batista in a Falls Count Anywhere match, plus Rey Mysterio!

Did you know that WWE was in the top three of all Yahoo searches? Did you also know that they don’t count porn searches?

It’s time for the US Title Match and here comes The Miz. We re-live last week where Mark Henry and a midget danced with some Divas.

Henry powers down Miz, who is probably just going to bounce off Mark for a few minutes. Mark goes for the Sunset-Flip Butt Splash but misses and now Miz takes over. Look, if Miz can get watchable matches out of Mark Henry than he deserves a main event program. Period.

Oh, and can you imagine Jack Swagger watching this match in the back when he realizes he could be out there? Miz comes off the top rope but gets caught in the World’s Strongest Slam, which he reverses into a DDT for the pin! Hey! Miz just beat Mark Henry clean! Color me shocked! Let’s throw in another exclamation point!

Jericho and Big Show are having a conference and it appears that Big Show is rocking an all black singlet tonight.

Commercial.

“I’m a Jew, in case you couldn’t tell.” Damn right, Mark Feuerstein. This is why “Royal Pains” was so awesome, delivery like that.

Thanks to Switchfoot for their theme song. Lawler’s thanking them. I probably wouldn’t torrent it.

Mark Cuban is hanging out with Chris Masters for some reason, which makes me think Legacy killed Cuban’s security and now no one is there to protect him.

Eve Torres and Hornswoggle are facing Jillian Hall and Chavo (who don’t even get an entrance).

Eve and Jillian wail on each other as Lawler confuses which Diva is which. Eve Torres then gets the pin on Jillian Hall to end this. Chavo grabs the midget but Even begs for him to stop. Chavo ignores her and tosses the little bastard. Eve now gets in his face before Chris Masters shows up in the ring and takes his shirt off. Please help me, this can’t be a Chris Masters face turn. This will cause a rift in the space-time continuum for sure.

Oh shit, Masters is doing the ridiculous pec flex thing as I vomit uncontrollably all over my living room. Masters then locks in the Masterlock and turns it into a slam. Chris then puts the moves on Eve before being cock-blocked by his own music. If those two mated they’d give birth to an orange M&M. Hornswoggle then makes his man-boobs jiggle as we go further down the Celtic Warpath. I hope there’s a rest stop on that warpath, because this trip is making me drowsy.

Commercial.

Jerry Lawler and Dapper Cole are in the ring running down the TLC card.

And here comes Chris Jericho, which means the SHOWDOWN is the main event. Jericho has the microphone and behind him are a bunch of “Jericho Sucks” promos. Chris promises to win a lot of Slammy Awards. Can they bring back Bowtie of the Year?

Chris Jericho promises to stay for as long as he wants and that at TLC he and Big Show are going to use the T, the L and the C to beat DX. I like how Jericho is rocking the playoff beard, and he will be wearing it after the…

Commercial.

“License to Wed” airs this Sunday on USA. I implore you, no matter how much the network tries to cut the commercials to make it look like this is a movie, I assure you that it is nothing more than the tools of the devil.

We’re back and I see glow sticks and skull caps but I’m not on ecstasy. That can only mean…DX. Cole then oversells the DX Army, especially when you consider those glow sticks are free. FYI, there’s an AWESOME “Sorkin 3:16” sign.

Shawn hammers away at Jericho for a few minutes before tagging in Hunter. I will repeat what I said in the SmackDown column and call for a Jericho victory here tonight. Allowing Jericho to claim that he not only beat Austin and The Rock in one night but also beat Triple H and Shawn Michaels in one match will propel him into the #1 Contenders slot against The Undertaker at the Royal Rumble, freeing up Batista to face Rey Mysterio (and getting Dave away from the title).

Jericho throws the ref into Hunter, which brings out Shawn Michaels. Big Show does the run-in (well…trot-in) and he attacks Shawn Michaels. Hunter runs in with a chair, but Big Show punches it into Triple H’s nose. Shawn pulls out a ladder but Jericho dropkicks it into Shawn’s ribs. Yeah, I miss Jim Ross too.

Show uses the ladder as a bat and kills the two middle-aged men in camouflage. Chris then grabs his tag belts and I find it hard to believe that the ref has been out cold this whole time. Jericho climbs the ladder with the tag straps, and I guess this match is over. Well that blows. I wanted to see Chris claim his win. Eh, at least DX didn’t beat him.

We see a split-screen of John Cena and Sheamus, who are heading for a SHOWDOWN.

Commercial.

Our troops risk their lives for us, so we give them Shad. You’re welcome soldiers.

Michael Irvin is there, so apparently this is part of long overdue community service.

Mark Cuban is in the ring and he will moderate this SHOWDOWN. Cuban does a crappy job introducing Sheamus. For a guy that owns a basketball team, you’d think he’d have heard enough player announcements to know how to do it.

And here comes John Cena. Again.

There are two very long tables with a podium in the middle. How many pieces of furniture are they going through?

Apparently each guy gets three questions. It’s like Passover only without the wine.

Sheamus says that he’s never been beaten and that he wants to do what no one has ever done. Cena responds with a “No comment”.

Question number two is if they are concerned with injury. Sheamus says that Cena is gonna lose and can cash in his rematch if he wants, but he’s even dumber than he taught. Sheamus is gonna drive him through a table twice in one night. He’s gonna lose everyting.

Cena grabs the microphone and by George the fans are rallying behind him. See, the Sheamus pick works. “No comment.”

Final question, “At TLC, the time for talk will be over. Is there anything either wants to say to their opponent?” Cena decides to talk now and says that Sheamus talks a lot. John says that he’s been in the WWE for 7 years. Jesus, has it been that long? Fuck, I’m old.

Cena’s faced everyone from Shawn Michaels to Kevin Federline (and I was there to see that magic live). Apparently everyone says they are gonna end Cena’s career but no one can stop him. I kinda wish he would have dropped Umaga’s name in there just to remind us that they had an insane match once upon a time. John believes that he’s on another level before going into his catchphrases to dwindling applause. Remember Cena, you go a lot further being honest instead of spouting canned lines.

John said that Sheamus impresses him, but he doesn’t intimidate him. Sheamus tards out and flips a table, so Cena throws a chair. Well, there goes the lectern. Sheamus shoves down Cuban and then bicycle kicks Cena. For good measure, Sheamus tosses the other chair. It’s an all out WAR on furniture on Monday Night RAW!

We get a few angles of Sheamus hitting the botched bicycle kick before returning live to Sheamus setting up a table in the corner. Cuban gets to his feet and walks like he has a rod up his ass. He then knocks Sheamus on his ass. Let me get this straight, Cena can’t stop Sheamus but Mark Cuban can take him down with one shove. Something tells me I don’t think Sheamus was supposed to fall. That might kill the push right there.

Sheamus knees Cuban in the stomach as this segment continues well past the point that it needs to. Sheamus grabs Cuban and drives him through the table. Someone please show Mark Cuban how much he’s worth and explain to him that he doesn’t need to do stuff like that.

“I’m tha new, Double-Yah, Double-Yah E champun!” No Sheamus, you’re not. You attacked an NBA owner. You’re probably wanted by the cops.

Finally the Mavericks hop the barricade and Sheamus hightails it, but not before again proclaiming himself the champion.

“This is awful.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Lawler.

This has been for your consideration.

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